29.06.2018 | Words by: Ruben Leter
Coming Sunday, Pieter Jansen presents his very first exploit of many more to come. His new label yeyeh (you’re everything you’ve ever heard) will release its first record: ‘Ja! & Ritmebox’ by Spinvis and Simon Vinkenoog, compiled out of two albums previously released on cd. For Pieter, these albums have always been there to fall back on.
To commence, there will be a happening. Many rooms in De School will host performances such as poetry interventions, concerts, dj-sets, acts and talks. All of this in spirit of the late Simon Vinkenoog. A visionary whose voice is his instrument.
To live up to this Sundays’ event, I tried to think of an appropriate way to host our conversation. A game of Scrabble seemed fitting. There was one rule: all my questions needed to be linked to a word he lays out on the board. Of course, this ended up being impossible to uphold.
As Pieter walks in he notices the playing board and looks excited. Apparently, Simon and his wife Edith used to play at least one game of Scrabble a day. ‘That’s no coincidence’, Pieter smiles.
Simon Vinkenoog passed away in 2009. The final years of his life he spent half of his time in a garden shed in Amsterdam Noord. ‘He always said it’s important to grow plants. Plant your own marihuana and your own veggies. And do nothing.’
‘There’s a song on the record in which you hear a reporter talk about unemployment.’ Pieter says. ‘Simon then shouts: “unemployment? Do nothing! Don’t do anything, all day long. Stare in front of you. Go to a museum. Why do you think all those soccer fields are there!?” The recordings in the album all stem from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. But his message is more important now than ever.’
Pieter lays out the first word on the playing board: ‘rieten’, reeds. ‘Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. The first word counts double, so that makes eighteen. Kaboom baby! The spirit of Vinkenoog.’
‘Theresa May once said the naughtiest thing she ever did was running through fields of wheat when she was young. What’s the naughtiest thing you ever did in your youth?’
‘I’ve always been very busy and restless. It used to be ten times worse. It led to me saying and doing things that weren’t very necessary. Although never with cruel intentions. Once, when my parents were gone, me and my brother stole our mothers’ make-up and put it on. Then we took all the chocolate flakes and spread them out on the couch. They weren’t so happy about that.’
you’re everything you’ve ever heard
Next, we argue over the Scrabble rules and forget the questions. yeyeh comes up. ‘All things other than the music - design, text, artwork – is done by friends. I’m intending to keep these things close and small. Say a good friend writes a nice poem, I’ll place it on the cover. Though, with yeyeh it should be an extension of what I am. With this first record, I’ve been listening to these songs for years. I am a product of this music. Or the music I listen to is the consequence of things I have experienced.’
‘Together with yeyeh, there’s ninih’. A sublabel with a different approach, Pieter mentions. ‘It is kind of the complete opposite. The songs need to be good, of course. But other than that, there is no greater meaning. It's music meant for clubs. I need to want to play out every track on a record in the club.’
‘For the first release on ninih, I have asked Oceanic, Max Abysmal and Sapphire Slows to remix tracks from the Ja! & Ritmebox compilation. It is set to come out near the end of summer. You don’t often hear Dutch vocals in club tracks. These songs all have Dutch samples from the album. But I really wanted one non-Dutch speaking artist to do a remix, cause I was curious how they would interpret the music. And so it came that Sapphire Slows did a remix of ‘Mamamiamarihuana’. That one is so good...’
Some Scrabble words lead to interesting chats, others pass unnoticed. When he plays ‘kazen’, Pieter mentions his wedding cake will be made from cheese. I play ‘stoned’, which leads us to talk about Simons’ favorite pastime. And when ‘vrezen’ (fear) is laid out, Pieter converses about his appreciation for Simon Vinkenoog’s views.
‘His work is often about life and death. On the remix EP on ninih, there’s a new song by Spinvis and Vinkenoog, ‘Leef met plezier’; enjoy life. It sounds childish, but the way he preaches it makes it so true. When you look at him, he is everything he says. “Mirror your own spirit”. It’s true. Everything you witness, reflects how you are and the way you have grown.’